Hazard a guess that Eden isn’t heading to Old Trafford



Eden Hazard, the prodigiously talented Lille midfielder-cum-forward, has been making eyes at Manchester United this week. Precipitated by Sir Alex Ferguson’s widely reported trip to France on Saturday evening, the 21-year-old says that he is “excited” by the prospect of joining United during the summer transfer window.

That may be the case, but with Ferguson unlikely to be furnished with the kind of funds that will secure the Belgian playmaker, United supporters may be in for another summer of tedious transfer stories. It has, after all, become so routine.

Indeed, there was no confirmation forthcoming from Ferguson that the Scot’s flying French visit was to ‘scout’ Hazard at all, although almost all of Europe’s leading clubs – and Tottenham Hotspur – are monitoring the Belgian’s progress and availability. There is no doubt that Hazard will leave in the coming summer though, whatever his destination, with the player having outgrown Ligue 1. Nor is the 21-year-old likely to welcome an impending 75 per cent tax rate for France-based millionaires.

What is certain: the Belgian international, now into his fourth season with Lille, will have the choice of clubs when he makes the move to Spain, Italy, or England after the winter opens in June.

Yet, United fans will feel a tinge of excitement this week, both as news of Ferguson’s trip filtered out on Saturday night, and on the player’s positive comments, Monday. Who can blame supporters – Hazard is just the kind of creative playmaker, who can play  both wide and centrally, which United has lacked in recent years.

“Of course [United interests me], this is a club that excites everyone, but for now my focus is on Lille,” the player reportedly told La Voix du Nord.

“But yes, it is a pleasure to be watched by one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best.”

Supporters should take the comments with a pinch of salt though, coming just weeks after the 36-cap international name-checked Spurs as a possible summer destination, with media widely reporting that the player had already agreed terms with the north London club.

Seemingly casting his net wide, Hazard has also spoken of his admiration for Real Madrid, Arsenal and Barcelona; a young man desperately seeking a hefty pay rise and a leg up the next rung of the footballing ladder.

“Our owner is ready to pay for an exceptional talent like Eden Hazard,” claimed soon-to-be England manager Redknapp.

“I have seen him several times. But I know Manchester United are also following him very closely. City, too. It will be difficult to sign him. But I love him. Last year, I loved Gervinho too.”

The White Hart Lane boss’ amorous feelings will likely remain unrequited unless Spurs smashes its notoriously strict pay scale, and the player genuinely believes he will not break into the side at one of Europe’s tier one clubs. It is an unlikely scenario for a player destined for the very top.

True, the spectre of Karim Benzema’s difficult first season at Real Madrid looms large, although it would take a huge lack of confidence on Hazard’s part to turn down a bid from one of Europe’s super-powers, even if it is a fear Hazard expressed in February when rumours first surfaced of Tottenham’s deal.

“Maybe I will play there [Spurs] next season,” said the youngster, who began his career at Tubize in his native Belgium.

“It is a nice club with a lot of good players and absolutely a top coach. I have not signed anything yet, but I hope it will happen in the near future. Perhaps Spanish football would be better for me, rather than the English. But if you want to be champion, you would need to play with Barcelona or Real Madrid. The opportunities would be much smaller.

“The competition would be strong at Tottenham too, but less so that at Barca or Real. I think I can learn the most in England. You play a big game every week and the atmosphere is great.”

Meanwhile, both City and Chelsea have sent scouting teams to Lille in search of Europe’s ‘next big thing’. Both have the finances to lure Hazard to England of course, although neither has been named checked by the player.

Then there is United, and Ferguson’s dash to France at the weekend. In truth, with the Reds unlikely to spend big until post IPO – whenever that may be – United is probably no more interested in Hazard than the club was in Barcelona-bound Alexis Sanchez last summer. It has, after all, been several years since the Old Trafford bean counters allowed Ferguson to shop at the very top of the transfer market. Hazard will go for more than £25 million.

Ferguson is far more likely, while we’re playing a game of transfer speculation, to have been watching Lille’s defender Mathieu Debuchy, or Olympique Lyonnaise midfielder Clement Grenier during the match at Stade Gerland.

In truth the spectre of Real will likely decide Hazard’s future, no matter the player’s proclamation to the contrary. After all, with Zinedine Zidane successfully tapping up the Francophone market for the prospective Spanish champions in recent years, the lure of Los Merengues is sure to be strong.

“He is a star of the future,” Zidane said. “He is strong technically and very fast. I would take him to Madrid without a second’s thought.”

Many United supporters would concur, if a deal to take Hazard to Old Trafford materialises. Glazernomics and European rivals dictate that it is unlikely.

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  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Aye… too good for United.

    What an infuriatingly depressing statement.

  • bman

    I could see us going for him if he was basically our only target. After all, with Berba and Ando probably being sold, and a few others like Michael Owen, Kuszchak, and Park potentially going off the wage book, even an expensive player like that would fall into our affordability bracket. He’s not left-footed at all though is he?

  • Herbie Simms

    SAF has a look at Hazard lasr week.In a recent interview, SAF said he was making an early move on players he was interested in signing this summer. We will just have to wait and see.

  • sidney

    The Guardian said Fergie fell asleep during the game

    He can’t have been that impressed

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    You can reason how, early moves, or getting players off our books, makes it possible that we will move for Hazard, and that we might even get him… what the hell, anything is possible.

    But don’t forget, whatever United offer, the first thing Lille will do, is run to City, Chelsea, Real, Spurs, Arsenal, and any other team showing any kind of interest and challenge them to better that offer… and ultimately we will not compete… we just won’t.

    United will have a set valuation of what they think he’s worth… and that’s as far as they’ll go… and there are at least 3 teams in that list that will piss all over anything we can offer.

    The only way we’ll get him, is if he insists on the move.

    • triggs

      Yep. This is why/how we got De Gea. Real, Barca, Chelsea and City did not need a keeper. So there was no bidding war.

      Unless the player is desperate to sign for United, those four clubs will always gazump United with more money (Chelsea, City) or better football (Barca, Real).

      I don’t think that Spurs could outbid United in transfer fees or wages. The only reason they can afford Adebayor is because City pay most of his wages. The same goes for Arsenal, although he may buy into playing for Arsene. But given they’ve got a similar-ish player in Oxlade-Chamberlain, I think their transfer business will be focused elsewhere.

      Hazard said on French TV that he’d decided to move to England. Maybe that’s because his agent has sounded out Barca and Real and they’re not interested (at the moment) or maybe he really wants to play in the PL.

      If he is sold on the PL, he’d be stupid to sign for City given what’s happened to Nasri this year. Signing for a new-look Chelsea next year is more understandable – but that’s dependent on them qualifying for the CL.

  • markyboy

    joe cole???

  • ian harris

    What a stupid article. Last summer United spent almost £ 50 million on players. Or was that a dream ? We’re (United) are not going to do a Chitty , and spend £ 200 million on silly players. That has never been the United way.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Ian – Charming, from a first time commenter. Where in the article is there any mention of spending £200m? But if you’re so confident and would like to put money on Hazard joining United I’ll happily place a bet with you. Money where your mouth is or do you only use it for insults?

  • Ian

    Historically, Utd spends big on a single player once every few years (except a brief spell around 2001-3 when we bought Rio, Veron and Rooney). I think it’s 4 years since we paid 30M for Berbatov so I reckon this summer may see a big buy (20-30M). Perhaps Hazard, perhaps Eriksen, perhaps Martinez, perhaps Ganso, perhaps Goetze. I reckon Fergie is evaluating them now like he was last year with keepers. A lot may also hinge on whether we see Fletcher return.

    By the way, I wonder what happened to the old interest in Steven Defour. That really went flat.

    • DeadRevel

      Question: how many changes would you make to this squad if you had the option of spending pre-Glazer type money? I bet it’s not much.

      We have a great young keeper and a very good back up.
      Great defence (if you include Vidic) and exciting potential. Even Evans has stepped up this season.
      Three quality wingers.
      Four top strikers, perfect blend of ages.
      Add to that Carrick who has been brilliant this season and Cleverley and the truth is we only need two midfielders for a complete squad. Pogba could stay too.

      Maybe add one striker to that if Berba is never going to get played (though that in itself seems more of a problem than finding a replacement. Aren’t we in need of players with quality on the ball who can keep possession?) Besides, if we bought Higuain for example, who suffers? Welbeck and Hernandez. We already have the ego of Rooney who simply doesn’t get dropped or subbed ever… Welbeck would probably leave if frozen out. Look at Pogba for Christs sake. He’s already threatening to leave and that’s before we splash 50MIL on new central midfielders.

      Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea are all inferior to us. City are equal – but our squad is younger. And we’re top of the league having endured an horrific injury list this season.

      Also, consider that Bilbao outplayed us more than any other side since Barcelona – how much did their midfield cost? Correct me if I’m wrong but none of them cost £25MIL did they?

  • Simonthered

    Nicely written piece, I don’t want to roll out tripe like “we only want united fans” but hopefully more players will look at the fate of Nasri, Adebayour, Lukaku and many more when their agents or clubs are just trying to secure the most money and stand strong and say “actually spurs and united showed the most Interest, that’s where I want to play” …… Or am in cuckoo land

  • realist

    ed- you do remind me a little of the fool at republik of mancunia with your childish over reactions to people disagreeing with your posts!
    are you scot in disguise?!
    ian simply said that it was stupid to claim we do not have the money to buy hazard when we spent 50 million last season….you have to be real stupid to overlook this fact in my opinion!
    just for the record offering a bet to prove that you will be correct in predicting we will not sign hazard proves what about that particular argument?
    i dont think we will sign him either, but i still agree with ian in that its stupid to say we cannot afford him when we have just spent 50 mil this last season!

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      realist – you do a great line in personal insults. I’ve been back through your comments and there majority contain personal insults. Always the empty vessels, hey. Why do you keep on coming back here? In fact, don’t.

      1) Where did I say United can’t afford him? 2) Where did I say United should /need to/ or that I want them to spend £200m? Neither, is the answer. Helps if you read before making your always pithy, never insightful, nor constructive ‘comments’. What I have said is that United will not spend upwards of £25m on Hazard. It’s an opinion that, as I said to Ian, I’m prepared to back with money because it’s the only argument I made in my piece – that United will not sign this player despite coverage in the Times, Telegraph and Guardian. I made no argument about how much we spent the summer before, or what United can “afford”, or anything about £200m.

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    You can reason how, early moves, or getting players off our books, makes it possible that we will move for Hazard, and that we might even get him… what the hell, anything is possible.

    But don’t forget, whatever United offer, the first thing Lille will do, is run to City, Chelsea, Real, Spurs, Arsenal, and any other team showing any kind of interest and challenge them to better that offer… and ultimately we will not compete… we just won’t.

    United will have a set valuation of what they think he’s worth… and that’s as far as they’ll go… and there are at least 3 teams in that list that will piss all over anything we can offer.

    The only way we’ll get him, is if he insists on the move.

    this is an excellent summary of the status of our transfer policy

  • brianofnazareth

    danniitronix said:
    this is an excellent summary of the status of our transfer policy

    I concur.

  • DeadRevel

    The above posters are right about our transfer policy, I’m just not sure how much this differs from the pre-Glazer era.

    The Glazers arrived during a lean spell for United when other teams were outspending us and 2 years later we were the best team in the world. Do I thank the Glazers for this? No… but let’s not rewrite history and pretend United were ever the biggest pull in club football. We have never been, and will never be that kind of club. Even at our peak (1996, 1999, 2008) we were competitive as opposed to dominant. No-one will ever match Barca 2009-11 for that kind of dominance.

  • RedDevilInAz

    There are a few things going against this trade ever happening, the initial cost is only the first barrier.
    • In has been pointed out already that any bid from United will be turned over to the Billionaire Boys Club and any one of them would out bid us just to prevent us getting this kid or to piss off Sir Alex.
    • We have not had much luck dealing with Lille, they trend to overprice their players and we usually drop out of the bidding.
    • In order to get Hazard would probably require a records fee from United and the ensuing salary for a 21 yr old would totally upset the pay scale, something that the Glazor’s would not allow.
    • What effect would the introduction of a record signing in the midfield have on any of our young prospects?
    • After 25 year leading United do I really think that Sir Alex would tip his hand that he is interested in a particular player? Not a chance in Hades; IMO he was scouting other players or simply deflecting attention away from who he really wants to sign.

    We all know that help in midfield is essential; we have watched too many game this season were we have been totally overrun. Even the most passionate ABU supporter would have to admit that Giggs and Schole are on a very, very short list of the best midfielders of their generation; but they cannot be our long term answer. Carrick is starting to show his age a little, he has become very selective about which balls he chases down, so he doesn’t provide any longer term solution.

    Will Sir Alex “bet” his transfer budget, or at least a big chuck of it, on one player – maybe a few years ago but I do not think so in today’s market.

  • redevil_83

    yes. i just can’t see us signing hazard. it will most likely be the no new CM signing in transfer windows of recent years. i am not going to keep any hopes this time around. what we have in CM is quite decent right now, but not quality enough to compete against the fine sides of europe. so its clear we do need to strengthen. but probably SAF was in france to look at some other ‘cheaper’ ‘value’ option.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    The above posters are right about our transfer policy, I’m just not sure how much this differs from the pre-Glazer era.

    The Glazers arrived during a lean spell for United when other teams were outspending us and 2 years later we were the best team in the world. Do I thank the Glazers for this? No… but let’s not rewrite history and pretend United were ever the biggest pull in club football. We have never been, and will never be that kind of club. Even at our peak (1996, 1999, 2008) we were competitive as opposed to dominant. No-one will ever match Barca 2009-11 for that kind of dominance.

    The biggest issue is not the spending under the Glazers… it’s the waste.

    If we don’t have the money to compete with City, then we don’t have the money… end of.

    But the Glazers have raised the cost of supporting United to nose bleed levels… and they’re not spending it on United… they’re pissing it away on their own financial schemes.

  • james

    To be totally honest i lucas of sao paulo is a better player and would be a little cheaper and he’s only 19, he’s going to be the best player in the world in 4 years apart from messi

  • Jonny Frodsham

    Little overpriced IMO at £25-£30 million, could get Christian Eriksson for probably half that, chuck another £7-£10 million at the Geordies for Tiote, flog off Anderson (perpetually injured, and rarely fails to disappoint)for what we pay for Tiote, let Scholes & Giggs retire, that would leave Carrick, Fletch, Pogba, Cleverley, and the two new guys in centre mid, with a good blend of age and style, which could play as a two man (Fletch/Tiote/Pogba with Carrick/Eriksson/Cleverley) or a three man (Tiote/Pogba with Carrick/Fletch and Ericksson/Cleverley). Release Owen, flog Berbs (no point keeping if he doesn’t play)and promote Will Keane. That lot probably shaves £100,000 pw on wage bill, and if we can get £10 mill for Berbs means only net spend of about £5 million. Then we can spend any other funds on a left back to challange Evra. Just my tuppence worth, for what it’s worth…

  • DeadRevel

    By the way…. Ferguson just said in his press conference that Berba could leve this summer.

    Gutted rally, but if it frees up transfer dosh for midfield I suppose it’s for the best.

  • OT

    Lucas is awesome apparently. Never seen him play but I hear he’s a prodigy .

  • dozer

    If Pogba stays, I don’t think Fergie will buy a midfielder. I’m not including Scholes and Giggs in this list, although I’m quite sure they will stay on.
    Cleverley, Pogba, Carrick, Anderson, Fetcher(?)

    Ok he may buy a DM.

  • han
  • dozer

    Commenter said:
    Lucas is awesome apparently. Never seen him play but I hear he’s a prodigy .

    wasn’t anderson world’s best under 17 player or some award of that sort?
    edit: Golden Boy – the top under-21-year-old football player active in Europe

    Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      dozer – he won the Golden Ball at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship. Easily the highlight of a shitty career.

      • RedDevilInAz

        I believe that was the same tourney where Messi first made his mark on the world stage. – Go Figure.

  • Pikey McScum

    We’re unable to attract the world’s hottest prospects – discuss

  • ichiro

    Knock off £5m for the effeminate name

  • 19 and Counting

    Pikey McScum said:
    We’re unable to attract the world’s hottest prospects – discuss

    Agree but that’ll change this summer when SAF realizes that this squad is not good enough to compete in the CL and makes 1 or 2 quality signings. They may just not be the BIG names everyone is expecting. Maybe he can get Roanldo back – 50m?

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    im gonna look through the squadlists of the prem midtable riff raff to see which of their players contracts are running out, this is the most reliable way to work out our new signings

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    not hazard, hoilett

  • 19 and Counting

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    not hazard, hoilett

    Hoilett is a forward and would be a good signing if Berba leaves. But it’s our central MF and LB/RB that is the priority IF we want to even compete in the CL.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Fuckin hell Mate… pay attention.

  • sidney

    19 and Counting said:
    Hoilett is a forward and would be a good signing if Berba leaves.

  • Pikey McScum

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Fuckin hell Mate… pay attention.

    Owned